Overview of Australia's aid program to Nauru

How we are helping

2016-17 Total Australian ODA Estimated Outcome
$22.4 million

2017-18 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$21.2 million

2017-18 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$25.4 million

It is in Australia's interest to support a stable and economically sound and resilient Nauru that has the capacity to effectively manage its resources and deliver to its community the benefits from economic and labour mobility opportunities. Australia is Nauru's most significant donor, contributing approximately 15 per cent of domestic revenue in 2014–15. Australia's aid in Nauru forms part of our broader economic and diplomacy efforts to promote prosperity and security in the Pacific region.

The Australian Government will provide an estimated $25.4 million in total ODA to Nauru in 2017-18. This will include an estimated $21.2 million in bilateral funding to Nauru managed by DFAT.

Recent significant growth in economic activity and public revenue has resulted in Nauru now enjoying almost full employment, with many households earning higher incomes than has been the case for many years. However, poor health and education outcomes persist. Despite significant progress in reducing Nauru's debt burden in recent years, the economy is easily affected by external influences. Energy and clean water production are reliant on the costly importation of diesel fuel. Public sector management is hampered by a lack of skilled and qualified personnel, and critical national infrastructure is dilapidated.

Australia’s Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP), led by the Department of Employment, connects Pacific island and Nauruan workers with Australian employers experiencing labour shortages, typically in rural and remote areas.In 2015-16, 17 Naruans worked in Queensland and Victoria. In addition, the five-year Pacific Microstates – Northern Australia Worker Pilot Program provides up to 250 multiyear visas for workers from Kiribati, Tuvalu and Nauru. These initiatives allow workers to build their skills and send remittances home to support their families.

Australia’s commitment to development cooperation with Nauru is ongoing with a shared objective of supporting stable and fiscally responsible government; promoting human development and essential infrastructure services.

Our program is organised around the following three strategic objectives as outlined in the Aid Investment Plan 2015-16 to 2018-19.

Objective 1:  Promoting more effective public sector management

Supporting Nauru to strengthen financial management capacity and economic governance is essential to maximising the benefits of available revenue. Australia is funding the recruitment and salaries of four deputy secretaries within the Departments of Finance, Customs and Revenue. These positions are responsible for policies associated with revenue collection, including customs revenue, debt management, fiscal management and development policy and coordination. Australia also funds the position of Tax Advisor to develop and implement new taxation reforms.

Promoting more effective public sector management

Objective 2:    Investing in nation building infrastructure

Construction and maintenance of infrastructure to support human development and foster commerce and trade is consistent with Australia’s strategic interests. Investing in infrastructure promotes economic growth and facilitates trade. Australia is supporting the redevelopment of Nauru hospital and infrastructure, for example, and improvements to power generation and water supply, which will deliver aid for trade benefits.

Investing in nation building infrastructure

Objective 3:  Supporting human development

Australia is assisting Nauru to deliver better health and education services by improving the quality of education and primary health care.  A healthy and educated populace is critical to Nauru’s economic growth and poverty reduction.  Supporting Nauru to address obesity, diabetes and cardio-vascular disease, and strengthen its education results is a priority.  Improved education outcomes and tertiary scholarships will assist to build a larger cohort of educated people able to take up key positions in government, private and state-owned enterprises as well as employment opportunities in the region.

Supporting human development

Our results

In 2015–16, Australia's aid program contributed to:

  • maintaining 100 per cent primary school enrolment since 2013–14, up from 69 per cent in 2002.
  • achieving 100 per cent coverage rate for key tuberculosis and hepatitis B vaccines for newborns.
  • the successful introduction of Nauru’s first taxation system and establishment of the Intergenerational Trust for the People of Nauru.
  • adoption of the Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE) as the Year 12 completion certificate, which articulates into the Australian tertiary system.
  • graduation of 14 students from the University of New England with an Associate Degree in Teaching (Pacific Focus).
  • addressing domestic violence and decision-making through the placement of a gender-based violence counsellor/specialist, working to expand women’s roles in leadership and the enrolment of six Nauruan students in a Diploma in Community Health and Wellbeing.

Our changing program

Our aid program in Nauru is focused on the needs of the broader Nauruan community and the development priorities of the Government of Nauru – improving public sector management, investing in nation building infrastructure and supporting human development.

We will work towards consolidating investments, targeting resources and increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of flagship sectors such as health and education. We will strengthen synergies between Australian bilateral and regional investments, and between investments supported by DFAT and other Australian government departments. Budget support for day-to-day operational expenses in the utilities sector is no longer required and we will focus on major infrastructure developments such as the hospital reconstruction, education facilities and other essential infrastructure.

Last Updated: 27 October 2017